Australia celebrates its biggest ever Refugee Week – Refugee Council of Australia

Refugee Week 2016 was officially Australia’s biggest to date, with over 350 events celebrated across the country in every state and territory.  Film screenings, photography exhibitions, flash mobs and music festivals brought out tens of thousands of Australians to celebrate the courage and contribution that refugees bring to their adopted nation.

Phil Glendenning, President of the Refugee Council of Australia said, “The incredible success of this year’s Refugee Week shows the resounding community support that exists across Australia for refugee communities.  This recognition of the courage and contribution of refugees is particularly poignant this year, with the Federal Election just days away and the two major parties still engaged in a race to the bottom in the way that they treat people seeking asylum.”

The first ever ‘Festival of Welcome’ launched in Victoria’s Federation Square, enticing thousands out on a wintry day to dance, cheer and celebrate refugees. Throughout the Festival, artists from refugee backgrounds such as Ajak Kwai, Abe Nouk and the Burundian Drummers shared the stage with well-known Australian artists who have raised their voices for refugee justice, including Felix Riebl (of The Cat Empire); Robot Child (featuring Waleed Aly); the Public Opinion Afro Orchestra; the Smith Street Band and Tripod.

Refugee Week in Sydney was celebrated at the new Inner West Refugee Welcome Hub which opened with people sharing their refugee experience taking centre stage. In a rare show of political solidarity, politicians from all major parties sat together and recognised the contribution of refugees. NSW Premier Mike Baird professed his sadness regarding contemporary political discussion, stating that ‘the current refugee debate, if you can call it that, breaks my heart’…

 

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